Retail dvd (mgm home entertainment, full screen)

The Charlie Chan Chanthology

Sadly not the classic'30s capers starring Warner Oland as the philosophical Chinese detective but those of his replacement Sidney Toler after the Chan franchise had been sold off to the poverty-stricken studios of Monogram. Of the six films here, 1944's mildly diverting chess murder mystery The Chinese Cat is the best of an admittedly ropey bunch, which also includes Meeting At Midnight and The Jade Mask.

What’s New Pussycat?

Definitively 'zany' '60s farce, written by Woody Allen, with Peter O'Toole as a Paris fashion editor inundated with willing, eager ladies. This sends him to mad shrink Peter Sellers, who's jealous. Meanwhile, Allen longs for O'Toole's fiancée. Basically an excuse for thousands of hit-and-miss jokes, strippers, much daft over-acting and Ursula Andress. Fantastic.

War Roundup

This WWII melodrama from Delmer Daves, director of all-time classic western Broken Arrow, has two great showcase roles for Frank Sinatra (poor, principled officer) and Tony Curtis (wealthy, mean sergeant). The romantic sub-plot has dated badly, but the battle scenes are still worth a look.

Cheech & Chong’s The Corsican Brothers

Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong all but eviscerate what remains of their Up In Smoke credibility with this 1984, er, adaptation of Dumas. Suffice to say that the period Parisian setting allows for, ho ho, cross-dressing, painful double-entendres (a villain called "Fuckaire"), and rock-bottom one-liners: "That's the Marquis du Hicky! He's a tri-sexual!" "A tri-sexual?" "Yes, he'll try anything!" Ugh.

Fellini’s Roma

Released in 1972, Federico Fellini's extended love letter to his adopted home city is less of a linear drama than an impressionistic anthology of autobiographical memories, sketchy anecdotes and documentary-style snippets. With sumptuous cinematography by Giuseppe Rotunno and a lush Nino Rota score, Roma is a minor Fellini work but a ravishing and innovative visual symphony.

Of Mice And Men

Gary Sinise directs John Steinbeck's fatalistic Depression-era fable of friendship and sacrifice with a reverence for the text and a painterly eye for period 1930s detail. Sinise also co-stars alongside Sherilyn Fenn and John Malkovich, who anchors this 1992 remake as mentally challenged gentle giant Lenny. A handsome American classic, even if the overrated Malky's twitchy mannerisms irritate as much as ever.

Best Shot

Dennis Hopper got an Oscar for his supporting role to Gene Hackman's high-school basketball coach in David Anspaugh's heart-tugging 1986 tale of sport-equals-life heroics. This was based on a real basketball comeback fight in '50s Indiana and released as Hoosiers in the US. Aptly enough, Hopper was fresh back from his own decade-long trip through chemical hell at the time. Sentimental slush, but redeemed by a knockout cast of veteran heavyweights.
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